Respite

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Ice n Xmas 029 smallThere is no such thing as a truly quiet day (holiday or otherwise) in a house with four children, three of them boys. And yet something unexpected happened on Christmas day this year. I made a sort of off-the-cuff, vague decision that wasn’t so much a decision as a shrug and a “whatever.”

I never turned the computer on.

Ordinarily when I try to “unplug,” I find myself chafing for a fix, even though I know the chances are slim that all that connecting will actually make me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile. I’m always pursuing a bit more “productivity.” So it was an unexpected grace, on Christmas, not to feel compelled to do anything besides be.

I took a forty minute walk with my dad and had a chance for concentrated conversation. I sat and watched an entire movie with my kids without feeling the slightest desire to go read, scrapbook, or clean something. I spent an hour–an hour!–sitting at the kitchen table with Julianna, helping her finish making a rosary her grandmother gave her last Christmas, which has lain 1/3 complete for a year. And at the end of the day I felt positively brimming over with love, and a peace of heart I rarely feel. In the light of that grace everything looked different. I was able to brush aside Michael throwing books (well, after a couple minutes of discipline) and laugh at A M Prayerhow he spent the whole day getting into a) cereal boxes, b) the refrigerator, c) the candy dish no matter how high it was put, d) his brothers’ Lego, e) candy canes he picked up from who knows where, f) you get the idea. I was able to be truly present in the moment when the kids were singing the Johnny Appleseed song as a bedtime prayer, Alex poised beside Michael on the toddler bed, Michael swinging his legs. To marvel at how beautifully, sincerely grateful Nicholas was, and how often he felt a desire to thank us and my parents for is favorite gifts. To chuckle at the menagerie of stuffed animals Michael feels compelled to sleep with, most of them bigger than he is.

Most of the time I feel like Donald Duck being chased by a lit fuse–running for my life to keep from getting my bum scorched.  But in the last month or so, I’ve had unexpected moments in which I have a moment to breathe–when the spinning vortex of insanity lifts for a moment, and I think, Hey, things they are a-changin’. I get a brief glimpse of what my world might look like a few years hence.

Then the madness closes in again, but somehow in its wake, life has a bittersweet tang to it. I need these moments of respite–a flash, an unplugged day–to help keep the normal demands of parenthood from blocking the view from the heights.

Begin my Christmas-season blog respite. I’ll see you around New Year’s.

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